Lon works in midtown and often buys lunch from Food Exchange, right downstairs. It’s a modern deli, a little fancier and more organized looking than the old-school NYC deli. It wouldn’t be special enough to blog about except that Lon has been raving about their Lentil Soup for months. He complains on the days when he arrives too late and they’ve sold out. If he’s still thinking about that when he gets home, he must really like that Lentil Soup.

About a month ago, still raving about the lentil soup…he started suggesting I taste the soup and make it for him. One day, he came home with a cup of that lentil soup, heated it up while I was sleeping on the couch, woke me up and fed it to me. Two days later, he came home with a four pound bag of lentils. He was getting serious about this lentil soup.

Lentil Soup 2nd round 6

Tasting it just once, I made some mental notes about it. It tasted like a chicken base, heavier on the celery, with Cajun seasoning. That was my analysis and so I set out to test it. I thought it was pretty close from what I could remember and I couldn’t wait for Lon to come home and try it. His verdict: the flavor was really close, but the texture wasn’t as smooth. I remembered it being lumpy so I had just blended about half with a stick blender. Lon said it might have thickened from sitting all day before he brought it home. He explained that the texture he loved was mostly smooth with just a few whole lentils floating about. He also suggested taking the tomato down a little.

Not bad for a first try. With the second try, I reduced the tomato and pureed most of the soup in a food processor for a smoother soup, reserving a bit of whole lentils too. Success! Lon approved!

Lentil Soup 2nd round

Replication aside, this is a wonderful soup recipe to have around. Left-overs keep well in the fridge and can be re-heated on the stove-top or in the microwave. It’s hearty and healthy, perfect to drink up for winter. Vegetarians can alter this soup with vegetable stock instead of chicken broth.

Lentil Soup
~makes roughly 12 cups

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
  • scant 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large pot (preferably enameled cast iron). Add onions, celery, carrot, and cajun seasoning. Stir until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add chicken broth, lentils, tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.

3. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Reserve 3 cups of the soup in separate container. Blend the rest in a food processor. Stir the un-blended portion back in. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary (shouldn’t need). Serve.

Lentil Soup 2nd round 3

Another serving option (more work but nicer presentation): Do not stir the un-blended portion back in. Keep them separate and ladle the blended portion into the bowl first and top with the un-blended portion like a garnish.

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